Director Richard Linklater’s last film, the Oscar wining “Boyhood,” was a slice of life that showcased twelve years in the life of a growing boy. His new movie is also a slice of life but in a much-condensed form, spanning just three days in the life of a college baseball player.
It’s 1980 and when we first meet Jake (Blake Jenner) driving toward the next phase of his life, college. In the backseat are a small bag of clothes and a milk carton filled with his favourite LPs. Arriving just three days before classes start, he bonds with his teammates over KISS pinball machines, longneck Lone Star beers and boings filled with Maui Waui. They party, talk baseball, play a more violent version of Rock! Paper! Scissors! called “knuckles” and try and meet girls as the clock ticks down to the first day of classes.
Largely conflict free, this isn’t a story so much as it is a snapshot of a time and place. It’s a transport back to the time of waterbeds, “My Sharona,” fashionable mullets and trippy Carl Sagan cosmology. Linklater recreates the freewheeling feel of the era and the last blast of childhood before the responsibilities of adulthood. The temptation will be to label this a more innocent time, but that isn’t exactly accurate. These guys are just as interested in scoring with girls as they are soring runs on the field so innocent they are not. At most this is an affectionately nostalgic glimpse back into our recent past.
“Everybody Wants Some!!” is a charming reminiscence. Linklater gets the details right—including a crude warning against the pleasures of waterbed sex—but more importantly populates the film with characters that feel like real people and not stereotypes conjured up by a 1980s way-back machine. It’s troubling that the female characters are given little to do—perhaps Linklater’s next could be from the point of view of the woman’s experience—but the men are entertaining and compelling sorts whose conversations are occasionally inane, occasionally philosophical, just like real life.
In the last shot of “Everybody Wants Some!!”Jake watches his professor scrawl “Frontiers Are Where You Find Them” on the blackboard. The film doesn’t bother with its character’s boundaries, choosing instead to introduce to them as they are beginning the searching for their frontiers. The movie and its characters live in the moment, and that’s a pretty fun place to be.